While Kings fans were excited just to catch a glimpse of in-game action from the newest members of the squad heading into the preseason opener, several rookies definitely made their presence felt right away.
Frank Mason III, a rookie on the heels of a dominant senior season at Kansas, led Sactown with 17 points in the win over the San Antonio Spurs.
However, the rookie was quick to deflect individual praise directed at him following the contest.
“I think I was solid, but I don’t really like to talk about myself – it’s all about the team,” said Mason III. “I think we did a pretty good job as a team because we won the game and that’s the main goal.”
Not far behind Mason III in the box score was No. 5 overall pick De’Aaron Fox, who logged 16 points of his own in the triumph. The Kentucky product touched on the challenges of being able to adapt his offensive game on the NBA scale.
“Players are physical and faster at this level,” said Fox. “The way we play, the way our offense is, it’s to get me downhill, setting screens from the deep corner. [The spacing] helps a lot with the way I play.”
Also making a highly-anticipated debut was Bogdan Bogdanovic, who arrived in Sacramento following a successful stint overseas spanning the past six years. When he checked into the game for the first time, the Serbian native received a warm welcome from the Golden 1 Center crowd and also shared a moment with veteran Vince Carter.
No. 8 described playing in his first NBA game as “a dream come true” and also stated the he was “really surprised that they cheered” when he was substituted into the game.
“It was awesome. Something unbelievable. I did not expect that,” said Bogdanovic about his interaction with Carter. As for what was said between them, a grinning Bogdanvic shed light on the simple exchange, stating that Vince simply told him “go guard him, that’s your man right there.”
The gravity of making an NBA debut can weigh heavily on many players’ minds, with Sacramento’s rookies sharing their thoughts on the night following the win.
“I wasn’t really nervous, I was just excited to get out there and just get my blood going,” Mason III said. “To play my first NBA preseason game, I’m just happy it’s over with now and even more happy that we won the game.”
“I was extremely comfortable. At the end of the day, you know like I always say, I just get down to we’re still playing basketball,” said Fox. “It’s at a different level, it’s against different competition, but you’re still playing basketball. We’ve been practicing for so long, so we know our plays, we know our sets, so we just get in and run.”
With the first game under their belt, the squad is set to square off with the Spurs once again in their second preseason matchup on Friday night in San Antonio.